Brent Albuino Writes About His Race
Start line (Port Edward)
The riders pour off the trailer trying to pretend everything’s going to be ok and we’ve all got our shit together and this epic race sorted! I’m nervous but I’m hung over just enough to not care so much if I drown at the first river crossing…. The crew is tramping through the sand dunes to bring us our first horses. As we await I remind Maudes that being the inaugural riders for this crazy shit I feel like a bit of a Guinea Pig…
You know what happens to Guinea Pigs Brentski?
They fucking die!
The crew arrive, Pip has my horse and she looks fucked from trudging through the sand dunes. This gives me zero confidence of what’s to come as Pip is an Aussie, hard as nails, born and bred in the Pilbara she has red dirt running through her veins and a fuck you attitude only an Aussie with a can of Bundy would understand…
Anthony Ward-Thomas was going to ride with Maudes and me until his horse did its best impression of a submarine on a training ride at start camp. He bailed on the race and I’m starting to think he may be the most intelligent person I’ve ever met! He was last seen drinking with the locals at Port St Johns…. Nice bloke, I hope he’s ok.
I get on my horse Amir. He seems relaxed, like he has no idea of the hell he’s about to endure carrying me through 100kms of torturouss terrain.
The race is about to begin!
Barry has his spiel.. I can’t remember all of it but it went something like this; Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! No matter what happens you guys are the very first to race the wild coast and you will always be the first!!
This becomes mine and Maudes catch cry for the days to come…
The gun goes off and we’re on our way to what will become some of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had on the back of horse!
Stage 1 (Port Edward to Msikaba)
It’s not long before I realize Maudes has changed a bit since I saw him 2 years ago, whinging his way through 1000kms of Mongolian Steppe. He seems to be Mr. Nice guy of the twelve riders competing in the race..
Malcolm looses his cantle bag, Then Stevie who we’d earlier dubbed “Adventure Barbie” does likewise. Malcolm falls off, Rose looses a hind shoe… Maudes stops to help each of them as if he stupidly expects the same in return when he’s floating upside down and out to sea at a river mouth!
This frustrates me a little.
The first stage is generally easy going except for some steps as Barry had described them at start camp…
Get off and lead your horse down the steps, give them some rein and they will follow you down.
Sounds easy enough, I think to myself.
It is not.
These are not fucking steps!
They are a series of small rocky cliffs you have to jump down and hope to Christ your horse thinks it a great idea to follow you! If your’e lucky enough that they go through with the whole ridiculous idea then you need to be careful that as they jump down the cliff face they don’t land on you, get in their way and your as good as fucked!!
We’re not far from the finish of stage 1 when Maudes declares his horse is spent…
Amir has been struggling since negotiating the steps, It’s suddenly extremely hot and the sun is beating down on us, he is dripping with sweat and heaving, nostrils flared like he’s just out run a cheetah.
Katja who has somehow been unlucky enough to have ended up at the back of the field has decided that listening to Maudes and I’s bullshit is somehow more comforting than riding alone. It seems we’ve adopted a German… I hope she knows how to operate her GPS as we have no fucking idea!
We get off our horses and trudge on in to the first vet check, we are the last ones in, our horses are struggling and I get the feeling we are already in a world of pain…
Stage 2 & night 1 (Msikaba to Mbotyi)
Amir is not a leader.
Maudes horse is not a leader.
Katja’s horse is just a goat.
We are getting further and further behind…
I chew on some biltong, it’s bloody good and restocking it soon becomes the highlight of the vet checks.
I need to pee!! Proclaims Katja
Again? Maudes mumbles..
I NEED TO PEE!!!
We heard you Katja! Go for it!
These poor bastards could do with a breather anyway..
There are some deep river wades during this stage and I’m 100% sure every bit of my 5kg of gear is now soaked. Can’t wait to crawl into that sleeping bag tonight…
The views are something else, untouched wild coastline, waves that roar in and crash smack bang into cliffs, white foam erupting over the rocks, the wind whips your face and you realize in that moment exactly why they call this place the Wild Coast.
Malcom has dropped behind the front pack and is now riding with us..
We approach what was described at start camp as The Steep Rocky Descent!
My GPS says we go down there…
That cant be right Brenstki?
That’s where it’s pointing..
Yeah guys we’re right on track, it’s down there!
It’s right about now I decide that this race may have been the silliest idea I’ve ever had…
What sort of crazy bastard decided he’d try and get a horse down there?
This is fucking madness! Declares Maudes.
Your horse was the best down the steps Maudes, I think you need to go first..
To my bewilderment he doesn’t even object he just jumps off and heads on down..
Katja follows him and I follow her.
It’s steep, it’s rocky, it’s slippery, it’s about 70m straight down trying to stay on your feet and convince your horse to follow..
Then you’re on a beach.
Thank Christ for that!
Hey Brentski, where did Malcom go?
Malcom is still stuck at the top of the descent…
Shit! I think we left him behind mate…
Maudes doesn’t need to say anything. I know he feels bad.
We straggle in to the overnight stop just before dark.
By the time I pass the vet Maudes has found us a tent and hands me a beer…
I hang my soaking gear out near a campfire and join the other riders with a plate of meat and rice.
We seem to be camped in the middle of a swamp and as I’m trying to eat there are some form of mosquitoes landing in my food, they are the size of small eagles and I think fuck this, todays been hard enough!
I grab my beer and climb into the tent..
Maudes is already wrapped up in his sleeping bag.
I’m going to the Greek islands for my next holiday Brentski. Lie on a fucking beach and drink cocktails!
We’ll be right mate just one more stage and our next horses are rockets!!
It starts to drizzle outside.. I accept the fact that all my gear will be soaked in the morning, I’m too tired to care…
We were the first…
And we’ll always be the first!
Stage 3 (Mybotyi to Port Agate Terrace)
I took the wrong kind of boots.
It said hiking shoes, something that’ll drain well and dry quickly, I think.. I never really read the kit list. I’ve got leather boots on they are holding every drop of water, my feet have not been dry since the first river we waded across..
It’s drizzling with rain and I sink my feet back into the sodden leather and mutter under my breath what a dumb ass I am..
As we saddle up a crew member by the name of Burroughs appears with his baby oil bottle.
This is great news! The baby oil bottle is full of Cointreau and Burroughs seems to turn up with it at all the right times. I take a swig to warm up and we’re on our way.
Katja is clearly the better of the three of us with her GPS and seems to be keeping us on track. We are on and off the horses up and down hill after hill. The nights rest hasn’t helped them and all three are struggling again…
The mood is a somber one. We’ve had enough of pushing these poor bastards up hills, down cliffs, through rivers…
Her face is bright red there’s fire in her eyes she explodes!
Mistvieh!!! Sturkopf!!! BLODER ESEL!!!!!
You all right there Katcha?
Eisberge bewegen sich schneller….
Let her go Maudes.